Sunday, January 30, 2011
Climate Change News: India
Global warming may rob basmati of its fragrance
Parakram Rautela, TNN, Jan 30, 2011
NEW DELHI: An experiment by Indian agriculture scientists points to the enormous effect global warming could have on the fragrant basmati rice. Basmati, Sanskrit for the fragrant one, may lose not just its aroma, the famous long grains may get shorter, say scientists.
H Pathak, principal investigator of Indian Agricultural Research Institute's Climate Change Challenge Programme, told TOI the Tarawari basmati grown in research fields in Delhi did not grow long enough and wasn't as fragrant as it should have been when cooked.
He said global warming may be to blame for the disappointing basmati produced in the 2006-2007 experiment. Temperatures that year crossed 26 degree Celsius in September when the basmati flowers and, 15 to 20 days later, when the grain begins to fill out, because of which a shrivelling of the grain was seen.
The extra heat, he said, prevented the food stored by the plant from travelling to the grain. Consequently, it failed to grow to the right length. The heat also destroyed fatty acids stored in the grain which give the basmati its distinct fragrance when cooked.
No field studies have been done so far but if true, global warming may have enormous implications for India's prized basmati crop, which stood at 4.5 million tonnes last year.
Pathak says the IARI has been receiving complaints from farmers about a sudden warming damaging rice crops. But Dalel Singh, who heads Haryana Agricultural University's Rice Research Station at Kaul, says his scientists have not observed the phenomenon seen at IARI, at least in harvests from 2007.
Pathak says temperatures in the 700 acres that make up the IARI campus in the heart of Delhi are similar to those in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh which grow Tarawari basmati. Therefore, what the scientists saw at IARI will be replicated in these areas.
Pathak says the best solution would be to bring planting dates forward, so that high temperatures in September don't affect the crop. The other solution would be to develop a new, heat-resistant basmati variety, though they generally have smaller yields.